Blog Post 9

Below is the Business model that Rachel and I worked on together for the company Envirofit:

Below are the links used to create my business model for Envirofit:

Envirofit Mexico Helps in Earthquake Relief



GSIF Week 8 Blog Post: Matt Feryo

Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start” speech was an incredibly insightful speech. Out of the many things that Guy covered, here are five points that really resonated with me and that I think would be easily applied to my project. My first takeaway was the very first point that Guy stated. He emphasized the importance of creating a venture that has meaning. Every member of our group is there by choice and because they truly care about improving the lives of children that live halfway across the world. As we move forward in our project, I want to make sure that our true goal is always in the back of our minds. Another key point that he made was to hire people that are “infected” with interest and passion for the project. In my opinion, passion is what drives people to success. If our venture is going to be successful, we want to work with people who can’t stop thinking about the project. All of our combined ambition will help us to not only create a successful product, but also successfully implement the product into the market of Sierra Leone. Similar to the last point, Guy Kawasaki also said to “polarize people”. He said that there is no use in aiming for the middle ground between crazy and ordinary ideas. This is something that really stuck with me throughout the entire video. Make something that no one has ever seen before. Some people may hate the idea, but at the same time there will be a group of people that becomes obsessed with the idea and help to see it to completion. For our project, there are products that have already been introduced to third world countries that fight malnutrition. If our product is going to be successful, we are going to have to differentiate ourselves from the others. Another point he made was to make milestones for the venture. When the milestones are reached, you will have concrete results. Then you can evaluate which direction you can take the project from there. In our project, I think that sometimes we get overwhelmed with all of the different “tasks” that need to get done. To be more efficient, we should focus on one thing at a time and set deadlines for ourselves. Finally, I felt the most important point that Guy Kawasaki said was his last. He told the audience to, “not let the bozos grind you down”. As a college student I think that some people outside of the University don’t take our venture seriously and may shoot us down. As we reach out to these external resources, it is important for our group to stress to them how important this project is and what we are trying to accomplish. A lot of people will tear us down, but its important to stick to our beliefs and do what we know is right as a group.

Preliminary Business Model Canvas:

Matt Feryo: Blog Post #7-8

Ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate:

  1. Children are not the only age group in Sierra Leone that are suffering from malnutrition. Most mothers have a very nutrient deficient diet and thus do not supply many nutrients to their babies when they are breast feeding.
  2. Most families in Sierra Leone live off about $2.00 a day and thus would be willing to spend about $0.15 on a nutritious product for their children.
  3. Rice is a part of almost every meal in Sierra Leone.
  4. Water is not readily available for families. Nor is it safe to drink/cook with, without boiling first.
  5. Most mothers travel to a market on a daily basis to acquire food for their families.
  6. Assuming that mothers like the product, they would talk about our product to other mothers and the product would become popular through word of mouth.
  7. Other products such as bennimix and plumpy nut are not widely used in Sierra Leone.
  8. Children would be willing to eat a pudding product.
  9. The taste of our bouillon cube is satisfactory.
  10. Families would report to World Hope the success of the product (i.e. are children healthier).

Ten hypotheses about your project that you need to test during fieldwork:

  1. Mothers are willing to travel to the market everyday or nearly everyday to buy our product.
  2. Children will enjoy the taste of our product.
  3. Mothers would be willing to use our product even though it is different from their traditional meals that they have been cooking.
  4. Mothers would be willing to start using our bouillon cube instead of traditional magi cubes.
  5. People in Sierra Leone would be able to make our product given the proper equipment.
  6. The ingredients required for our recipes are cheap and readily available so that the product remains at an affordable cost.
  7. In the warm climate, it will be important to test to see how long our products last before they spoil.
  8. Women would be available and willing to work and cook to manufacture our product.
  9. The packaging supplies could be easily imported to Sierra Leone at an affordable cost.
  10. Coconut milk can be easily manufactured from coconuts in Sierra Leone at a low cost.

What do you think you bring to your team? How has your perception of your own strengths and weaknesses changed over the course of the class? Please be specific.

I think that I bring positive energy to my team. Although cliche, I really believe that negativity is contagious and that nothing productive comes from a negative attitude. I try my best to maintain a positive attitude in meetings and in conversation. When it seems like we have come to a dead end in our project or something that we are working on turns out won’t be possible, it is really important to analyze that mistake and learn from it. I like to look at the positive side of every situation. I think that throughout my experience in this class I have developed better public speaking skills. Also, I think that most students, including myself, are used to problems being solved with a definitive answer. Something that I have found difficult in this class is that there is no correct answer to a problem. In fact, there is not even a correct way to go about addressing the problem! There are solutions and so many paths to these solution, but it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to address real life problems and even still the solution you were hoping for may not come as you were expecting it. There are definitely areas that I hope to continue to grow as a member of this class as well. I have always worked very well with others and would consider myself an active member of every group that I am a part of. In my group currently, I think that we all mesh together very well and act as leaders simultaneously. Public speaking is something that I still consider to be one of my weaknesses and I hope to continue to grow in this aspect so that it becomes easier and more natural.

Blog Post #6: Matt Feryo

Overall, I think that my group’s first presentation went fairly smoothly. In order to improve my presentation skills for next month, here are ten things that I will do to strengthen my next presentation:

  1. On this first presentation, my group and I felt that since this was the first presentation, we had to present a good amount of background information for the judges to understand the purpose and importance of our project. In future presentations, this information will not be as necessary because the judges have already heard the information. This will allow us to touch on more of the actual research that we have done.
  2. Personally, I was very nervous for the presentation. I rarely present in large groups of people, so doing so was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. I think that for the most part, I did a good job being confident in the information that I was presenting, but occasionally I noticed that I was tripping up on some of my words and stuttering. In the future, I would like to be more fluent in my presentation.
  3. Going along with the last point, something that I can do to fix this would be to practice more with my team. All three of us were very busy and did not have time to rehearse the presentation beforehand. Although we were able to pull everything together, some practice will only make the presentation smoother and more cohesive.
  4. During the questions part of my presentation, I noticed that all three of us tried to chime in and give our answer to the question. In reality, it may seem that we were stepping over each other. In order to fix this we will have to come up with a plan on how to address questions in a more concise manner to allow for more questions.
  5. That being said, I felt as if I could have answered questions that one of my group members answered. Once again just proving that we need to figure out a way to address questions and deliberate who is answering them.
  6. This last presentation, we had a question bank that we were prepared to answer. Unfortunately, none of these questions were asked. So, in the future we are going to have to think of new questions to prepare for and make backup slides for these.
  7. Something that I noticed was that a lot of the questions were about stuff that we had thought about, but was much further down the line than we are now in the project. Perhaps, the best way to address this problem so that it doesn’t occur again would be to put a timeline on one of our slides so that the judges no exactly where we are in the project.
  8. I think something that we did well as a team was bring a specific product to the meeting. This is definitely something that we should do for the next meeting.
  9. We got a lot of feedback saying that the judges really enjoyed seeing the graphs that we put on our slides. This is something that we will definitely include again in future presentations.
  10. Finally, in this presentation our group had a difficult time with the time restraints. Going into the presentation we had planned how long each of us would speak. Not all of us followed these restraints and we were forced to rush in some areas of the presentation. Again, this is something that will come from practice.


Our project does require IRB approval for our malnutrition product in Sierra Leone. We will be planning on working with some families to determine if our product is something that would be accepted into the diets of a typical household. Because this has minimal risk involved, we should qualify for the expedited IRB application. While in Sierra Leone, perhaps we will work with schools and distribute our project there because there are such a large number of children at school. Additionally, we will have to work with the Community Health Workers to determine if they think this product would be accepted in society.

For our venture, like many, there are many incomes that we will be putting into the model (time, money, and partners). The outputs that we are hoping for is that we have developed a product that boosts the nutrient levels in children in Sierra Leone and that families incorporate the product into their diets. The outcomes should improve the lives of children in Sierra Leone, by making them live healthier lives with healthier diets.

Matt Feryo: 2/22/19

As a swimmer, I am constantly wearing goggles to protect my eyes from the water. I would say that on average I go through about 4 pairs of goggles a season. Each pair costs about $20. So in total, I spend anywhere from eighty to one hundred dollars a year on something that should be able to, in my opinion, last me a career. Figuring out what causes the goggles to break is difficult because there are a lot of different areas that the goggles can tear. In general, however, I would say that the most vulnerable part of the design is the piece that ties the straps together in the back. It is made of plastic and snaps incredibly easily when the straps are tightened. So if I were to redesign goggles, I would mainly focus on creating some type of piece that does not break as easily as the current plastic piece. As of right now, I would say that the best material to replace the plastic would be rubber because of its capability to stretch and maintain its shape without too much strain. Also important would be to maintain the comfort and cushion around the eye pieces. These goggles will be on athletes faces for sometimes up to four hours a day. Needless to say comfort is incredibly important in a design of goggles. Additionally, the goggles would have to maintain their hydrodynamic shape. Pretty much all goggles that are made currently are marketed as “the most hydrodynamic goggle their is”. Every curve and every edge of a person’s body creates a small drag in the water that slows down the swimmer. The new goggle would have to have sleek features and be made with care, as to avoid any unnecessary drag that could effect the swimmer’s race. This shape would have to be determined through research in the pool.

In order to validate the concept of this endeavor, I would most likely reach out to different companies that are already making goggles. There are several different companies, each with many different models of goggles. Maybe I would reach out to these companies and ask if they have considered remodeling their goggles to make them last longer and more durable. Once I get the attention of these large corporations, it will be important to get professional athletes to sponsor the new model. Young swimmers look up to professional athletes. Having a previous olympian endorse the product would definitely incite other’s to want to buy the product. This would also lead to a strong marketing plan. If the product was marketed as a “Super Goggle” that is stronger and more durable, along with professional endorsements, in my opinion, the goggles would be extremely popular.

A philosophy of engagement takes many different forms and has many different purposes. In short, it is how someone uses their own skills to provide a service to others in need. In this case, I feel like I have a lot of expertise in the field of swimming. I have been swimming since I was six years old and have gone through countless pairs of goggles. The importance of having a good pair of goggles is imperative for a competitive swimmer. Any inconvenience can easily get in a swimmer’s head and completely throw them off for their entire race. So, I think that I can bring my expertise to the table and help these companies create the “perfect” pair of goggles that last longer and is harder to break. Another aspect that goes along with the philosophy engagement is being willing to serve others in a selfless manner. I would want to make these goggles so that every swimmer feels just as fast as Division I athletes and Olympians. Wearing the same gear that these athletes wear will, hopefully, inspire young kids to work really hard, set goals, and accomplish them. In my opinion, there is no better feeling than everything going perfectly in your race and you have the race of your life. I would want these goggles to reduce the stress of these athletes, who sometimes have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Stress never does any good for young athletes. Producing more durable goggles will reduce this stress and help them to swim faster!

GSIF Blog Post #4: Matt Feryo

Nature is a great model, mentor, and measure for my designs and life. This is known as biomimicry. My group’s venture would definitely be able to utilize and learn from nature. If we take our project step-by-step, we first address our problem, which is the unprecedented number of children in Sierra Leone who suffer from a malnourished diet. Then, we think, what causes this malnourishment? Is it the food that is being consumed? The amount of food being consumed? In reality, there is no definitive answer, but rather a combination of all of the above. This is something that we have addressed, and that is why we have decided to create a food product to supplement the normal diets of infants. Still, an issue that we have encountered is the difficulty of retrieving clean, usable water. Women often have to travel long distances to obtain clean water, and still this water needs to be boiled to kill any bacteria that remains in the liquid. This process of boiling the water over a fire can often take from forty five minutes to an hour. So, this is a problem that I believe we can use biomimicry to potentially come up with a solution. All plants and animals rely on water, but sometimes water is not generally available. So, over time, animals and plants have adapted to overcome this issue. As an example, Cacti, which primarily grow in the desert can store water within themselves. They rely on this supply of water when rainfall becomes scarce. So, perhaps, if we were to incorporate clean usable water within the packaging, then solution to this problem would be much easier to determine.

One of “Life’s Principles” is to evolve to survive. This is something that I believe everyone does on a daily basis with or without realizing it. The word “survive” tends to carry a fairly heavy connotation, but in general adapting to your surroundings is habitual. If we focus in on our lives here, at Lehigh University, students are constantly adapting to their environment: changing their study routines, altering their schedules to account for all of their extracurricular activities, etc. Everything is done to help make us live content, happy lives.

The Cradle-to-Cradle Design means that a product should be designed to be sustainable and have a lasting impact for generations. This is incredibly important when creating a product that will hopefully be widely-distributed throughout the entire country. One way that I could see this having an effect on our malnutrition project is through the packaging. It will be important, once we develop our product, to be conscious of our packaging material. A packing material that creates a waste that is not able to be cleaned up may help address malnutrition, but would only cause more issues to deal with in the future. If we were able to create some type of package that was completely biodegradable, our product would be a success. Unfortunately, I am not sure if this is something that would even be possible. It would be something that we will have to research in the future.

I think for most people, during my first week at college, I encountered a lot of “aliens”, or things that I had never heard of or encountered before. My first example was my engineering 10 class freshman year. I walked into the class having absolutely no idea what “Matlab” or “Arduino” were. I had never written a piece of code in my life and had no idea how to start. Fortunately, after a lot of explaining from the professor and friends, I was able to learn how to code by the end of the semester. Another example of something that was foreign to me when I came to college was just about everything that I have learned through different labs. I had some minimal lab experience in high school, but nothing compared to college. I come across a different technique or tool that I have never used before everyday, and that is what I enjoy about lab! Everyday is a new adventure! Finally, another time I encountered something “alien” was when I travelled on vacation to Europe. I have been to Europe several times, and every time I go, I always try to have one meal where I order something random off the menu. This allows me to try different cultural foods that I wouldn’t be able to experience in the United States.

Matt Feryo: GSIF Blog Post #3

A stakeholder in a project is someone or some entity that has some type of motivation or role in a particular project. The project that I am working on is aimed to help infants to be healthier by developing a food supplement that adds to the nutritional value of their diets. There happen to be numerous stakeholders in this project, the most obvious being our research group. We have been working for over a semester to develop this food product and will most likely continue through many more. We have invested our time and efforts toward this project in hopes of improving the lives of people that live halfway across the world. If this project were to be successful, we would possibly make a very small profit by selling the product. Additionally, another stakeholder in this venture would be the people that would manufacture this product in Sierra Leone. This opportunity would help these workers to earn more money for their families and as a result be wealthier. A third stake holder in this project would be the suppliers that we buy our ingredients from. Whether they be people who live directly in Sierra Leone, or vendors elsewhere, these people will earn money from selling us their products. Next, the mothers that prepare meals for their children in Sierra Leone should benefit from our product. If we are able to develop a product that doesn’t require the mothers to get and prepare clean water, this could make the process of making their children food easier and safer. Finally, another very obvious stakeholder in this project would be the infants that directly benefit from a supplemented diet. Hopefully, this product will allow them to live healthier lives. Being healthier will decrease the chances that they get diseases and help them to be more active. Nutrition plays a huge role in a person’s life, and if we are able to develop a product that improve someone’s nutrition, they will most likely live an easier, happier life.

One way in which we plan to validate our project and bring it credibility is to make connections. We plan to make connections here at Lehigh, with professionals in America, and with professionals in Sierra Leone. If we are able to convey to these people that we are serious about developing a product to actually distribute in Sierra Leone, they will hopefully offer their help. With their help, we will be able to develop the product that I have been talking about and help people to live healthier lives. When speaking with these professionals, I think that it is incredibly important to act in a professional manner and so that these people don’t just see us as students working on a project that has no tangible results. Once these contacts are developed, we will be sure to keep these people updated with our data and progress. Additionally, we hope to gain some credibility and validation through our deliverables. These deliverables are a presentation that includes the progress that we have made on our project. Whether this deliverable is in the form of a paper or a presentation, we hope that people will see the work that we have done and realize that we are working hard to produce results. Additionally, if we are able to make substantial strives forward in developing a product. This is potentially a project that we would be able to present at different types of conferences throughout the country. Perhaps, we would even be able to publish a paper discussing how we developed this product, the nutrient content of it, and other information about this project. Finally, this Spring it will be very important to present our research well at the Lehigh Expo for other students and faculty to see. This will hopefully catch the interest of people who can make important contributions to the project and will help our project to move in the right direction. All of these things combined will help to validate and a add credibility to our project. Overall, I think that the most important way to do this is to make connections with as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. Once these connections are made it will be important to collaborate and maintain these connections.

Matt Feryo: GSIF Blog Post #2

Cultural issues play a huge role in the malnutrition project, especially among the 6-23 months age group. One of the biggest issues regarding this project is that the women of the household take so much pride in the food that they make for their children. Often times they have been making the same recipes for decades, passed down through generations. Introducing an entirely new food product disrupts this continuity and may not be appreciated by the women in Sierra Leone. Additionally, the people of Sierra Leone have some “food taboos” that may seem strange to outsiders, but are practiced regularly in their country. One specific taboo that comes to my head is a simple banana. Mother’s will not feed their sons bananas because somewhere in their history, it was established that bananas would stunt the penile growth of young boys. These “food taboos” make it difficult to create food product. One final issue is their lack of clean, consumable water. This requires water to be boiled prior to use which takes time and energy. A perfect food product would be able to be eaten without requiring the mothers to gather water on their own.

For the most part, I have not experienced many of these situations at my home in America. Something that I have experienced frequently is family recipes. My mother and grandmother specifically have many family recipes that they value and sometimes asking to make the recipe a different way insults them. Another time that I have experienced similar cultural situations was when I went camping and cooked my meals over the campfire. It took a fairly long time for water to boil over the fire, compared to a common house stove. Lastly, this example may not exactly align with an example from Sierra Leone, but my mom no longer makes bacon for anyone in my house after research came out suggesting that it may be carcinogenic.

Some of these cultural practices can be leveraged to make our product more desirable. One of the more obvious cultural practice that we can leverage is the difficulty getting clean water. If we could develop a product that doesn’t require any water at all, I think the product would be very popular. It would distinguish the product from other food supplements that are already in practice and it would make preparation much easier for the mothers. Additionally, if we market the product correctly avoiding any “cultural taboos”, the people of Sierra Leone may be willing to try our product. Finally, if we are able to somehow show the mothers that our product significantly helps their children to be healthier, maybe they will be willing to try a new recipe.

Not only does the culture of Sierra Leone present challenges to our venture, the location of Sierra Leone does as well. Being on the west coast of Africa, many resources that are available in the United States are not as available in Sierra Leone and thus more expensive. While trying to make a product that is affordable, additional expenses should be limited. Also, our product should be readily available for people all throughout the country. In a country with limited highways and roads, it may be difficult to distribute our product. Finally, in such an agriculturally rich country, many people in Sierra Leone prefer to eat the food that they grow on their farm. This would make it difficult to introduce a pre-prepared product into their diets.

While the African continent presents several challenges it also presents a few advantages. For instance, while there are a few resources that are not as available as they are elsewhere in the world, thereĀ  are some resources that are significantly more available in Africa than they are elsewhere. For instance, peanuts and cassava and incredibly cheap and readily available in Sierra Leone. Another resource that is unique to Africa is their marketplace. People travel from all over to go to their respective markets to buy their food. This offers a perfect place for us to sell our product once it is developed. Finally, the closeness of women in Sierra Leone offers a perfect way for our product to be publicized. Through word of mouth, mothers could talk about our new product and hopefully make it popular.

Week 1 Blog Post – CINQ 396

Signing up for the Creative Inquiry classes was an easy decision for me. The Malnutrition project allows me to research an area of the world that I am not very familiar with and allows me to make a difference. I began working on the Malnutrition project last semester and quickly became attached to it. I was also attracted to the uniqueness of the program. Often times I find myself wondering in a typical lecture, where and how am I going to apply this knowledge to the real world. The Global Social Impact Fellowship gives me the opportunity to learn how to apply the knowledge that I have acquired throughout my academic career. In my opinion this skill is crucial to being successful in the future. Finally, helping others is something that I feel should be a part of everyone’s life. Being able to positively impact the lives of an entire population is truly an opportunity that I could not pass up.

As a bioengineer, we are taught how to think creatively and problem solve. I don’t think there is another program at Lehigh, or anywhere, that more accurately addresses these two skills. At the start of the Malnutrition project, our group was given a simple problem statement, and from there we had to determine how we would address the problem with advice from our mentors. While this project helps me to learn how to think creatively and problem solve, it also teaches me what life is actually like in the workforce. In school, we are used to being given a problem and solving for the answer, and for the most part there is always an answer. I know now that this is absolutely not the case in the real world. The path to the solution is not predetermined and is not direct. The solution to our Malnutrition project will take years and the minds of many individuals to determine.

Compared to the rest of the world, the African continent is extremely deficient in physicians. Training to become a physician is expensive and time consuming. For this reason, citizens in many African countries have a difficult time addressing their health-related issues. For instance, there is almost no access to optometrists in many countries throughout Africa. Even still, access to these doctors often requires a lot of travel time and is expensive for people who live off a very low income. Living with unaddressed eye deficiencies can be incredibly disruptive to the lives of a person. It would effect every aspect of a person’s life, including their work. Eye deficiencies would make productivity levels much lower and could lead to an individual losing their job and/or not receiving the compensation that they would if they had adequate eye sight. Addressing this lack of optical care is something that entrepreneurs and humanitarians have been trying to address for years and have been unsuccessful. There are many things to consider before just coming up with a plan. How will 1,000,000,000+ people get eye exams that are affordable and accessible? Do these people even want glasses? Often times, there are cultural differences in other countries that people do not take into consideration when developing a plan. For instance, some cultures may view eye glasses as a sign of weakness and thus, would refuse to wear them. In my opinion, I do not think there is a feasible way to simply distribute glasses that are easily accessible, affordable, and effective to the entire continent of Africa. So, my next thought is to figure outĀ why so many people are suffering from optical deficiencies. There are many reasons why people can have blurry vision. In most cases, it is just natural for someone to develop blurry vision. However, there are some cases where blurry vision can be prevented and, interestingly enough, they can be connected to the Malnutrition project. Deficiencies in certain nutrients such as Vitamin A can damage parts of the eye and lead to blurry vision that is preventable. So, one way to address this issue would be to develop a food supplement! The supplement would have to include ingredients that contain high values of Vitamin A, while also making sure the product is something that would go along with the population’s everyday diet. After the product is developed, we would have to determine how the product would be manufactured and distributed so that it was easily accessible. Although this solution would not address eye deficiencies in their entirety, I believe that it would make a notable impact over time.